How to Drive Better Service Results with Technology

25th June 2016Change Management

The service industry is awash with new technology. From smart sensors to field service automation. From virtual assistants to web portals and mobile apps.

The common denominator?

Making use of real time information to increase service efficiency and improve the customer experience. The results are:

  • Reduced operational costs
  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Higher service revenues

So how are smart businesses using technology?

Predictive Maintenance and Servitisation

Once the preserve of organisations maintaining high value, critical field assets, the falling costs of smart sensors and web based monitoring, are beginning to make connected machines an economic reality for an increasing range of industrial and consumer machines.

Where a machine fails the technician can not only remotely diagnose the problem, but also obtain detailed guidance on how to fix it, increasing the likelihood of a first time repair.

In industrial applications, service organisations are using IoT for predictive rather than scheduled maintenance. Through gathering real time data, many organisations are now better able to calculate the true cost of use of the asset, changing the business model from product sale plus ad hoc service to full servitisation 1) through asset leasing.

The latest PWC/Servicemax research 2) reveals that 83% of businesses believe that early adopters of IoT have clear competitive advantages, so it is no surprise that over two thirds of service businesses surveyed are committed to develop their expertise in this area.

Process Automation and Self Service

Forward thinking companies have automated their processes from service request right through to the receipt of customer satisfaction feedback.
Online FAQs and solve it yourself videos provide first level soft service. This is taken a step further through the use of artificial intelligence powering chatbots. Web portals allow customers to book, amend and cancel appointments.

Automation at the enquiry/booking stage reduces the burden on call centre agents and help desk staff and satisfies the growing customer requirement for 24/7 self-service.

ERP systems such as SAP CRM, Oracle and specialist field service software automatically assign jobs to field based engineers based on efficiency criteria and trigger automated customer messaging through SMS or email.

Data updates received from telemetry inputs and engineers’ terminals are also made available to the customer through web portals and mobile apps. Since status is shown in real time (or just as soon as data transmission is possible), the customer is kept fully informed which simultaneously increases customer satisfaction and reduces the number of non-value added calls received by the service organisation 3)

Data Collection and Service Revenue Generation

Not so long ago, businesses collected just sufficient data from the customer to provide the engineer with the information and parts required to make a repair. The so-called “break-fix” scenario. Reactive service focused on the asset and not on the customer.

Today, service is all about supporting the customer over the entire product lifecycle providing integrated ownership solutions for all equipment in the installed base. Data on product use, customer preferences and future needs are collected at every touch point whether online, over the telephone or face to face.

The enabling technologies include cloud computing, CRM systems, mobile apps and automated C-sat surveys.

By building up a complete picture over time, organisations are able to identify additional products and services to offer through targeted up and cross selling. They can also more effectively manage the pre-end of life stage and smoothly transition to a new asset sale.

In summary:

Technology is changing the way that service is delivered. It is allowing customers to provide more information on their products and the way that they prefer to use them. In return they expect responsive and personalised service at the lowest cost.

Customer experience with the product in use is more important than any other factor for customer loyalty 4). A service request is a moment of truth. How well a company responds is increasingly a make or break moment.

In tomorrow’s hyper-connected world, the winners will be those companies who today are investing in technology and using it seamlessly and flawlessly in all parts of their service organisation.

1) Servitization refers to an integrated product and service offering that delivers value in use. Examples include airlines paying Rolls-Royce for engines based on hours flown or offices paying photocopier firms based on documents printed. The products are supplied and maintained exclusively by the manufacturer.

2) IoT and Field Service Research Report 2015

3) 30% of calls and emails into field service desks today are simply to check on the status of jobs or to change previously agreed time slots – Mplsystems Service Management Expo 2016

4) 89% of companies compete mainly on the basis of customer experience. Gartner 2015 – The Customer Experience Battleground

For advice and support to help you to develop your service business please contact Chris Dunn

Tel: +44(0)1487 843599

Email: cd@chrisdunnconsulting.co.uk